|Looking back and forward with Jon Lester and the Red Sox||09.29.14 at 11:02 am ET|
Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason. The left-hander is slated to start the Athletics’ one-game playoff against the Royals on Tuesday night, his opponent (in almost comical coincidence) Kansas City ace James Shields.
With Lester on the mound following a 16-11 season, career-low 2.46 ERA, career-high 219 1/3 innings, 220 strikeouts (9.0 per nine) and career-low 48 walks (2.0 per nine) and on the cusp of free agency, the baseball world will be watching closely. That, of course, includes the Red Sox organization that traded him on July 31 (along with outfielder Jonny Gomes) for Yoenis Cespedes.
The negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Sox and Lester after the pitcher had stated a desire to sign a long-term deal to remain with the Sox, even if it meant taking a discount to do so, lorded over the Sox’ season. That was true while Lester was with the team, and it’s true now that he’s gone, given that the Red Sox make no secret of the fact that they have a significant amount of work to do regarding the rebuilding of their rotation, and more specifically, the front of their rotation.
“Hopefully we can get right back into it if we fix the top of the rotation,” Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said.
“That’s absolutely our intention,” team chairman Tom Werner said on Sunday about whether he believed that the Sox could build a rotation to return to contention in 2015. “We have the resources. Hopefully it will all fall into place soon.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Yoenis Cespedes reflects on milestone, trade from A’s, contract outlook going forward||09.27.14 at 5:19 pm ET|
Yoenis Cespedes arrived for the first time at a noteworthy milestone on Saturday. On Saturday, in the Red Sox‘ 10-4 win over the Yankees, Cespedes drove in a pair of runs, giving the 28-year-old 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.
Of course, that his milestone came in a Red Sox uniform is of some note on the opposite coast. Since the head-spinning July 31 trade that shipped Cespedes (and a competitive balance draft pick) to the Sox in exchange for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, the Oakland A’s have been in something of a freefall. While Cespedes has hit .274 with a .301 OBP, .431 slugging mark and 33 RBIs in 50 games, the A’s are 21-32 while scoring just 3.5 runs per game, making them the worst offense in the American League in that time.
Cespedes could not say what role his absence had played in his former team’s offensive decline, but did acknowledge that even now, he remains surprised that he is no longer in Oakland.
“I don’t know [why the A's offense has struggled]. I would have to be there to give you a better answer on that, but I don’t know,” said Cespedes through interpreter Adrian Lorenzo. “I was surprised when [the trade] happened. I’m still a little surprised. I thought there was a chance it would happen next season. I didn’t think it would happen this season because I didn’t think Oakland was going to re-sign me after this contract, but yeah, definitely surprised.”
The Sox, meanwhile, have been pleased by his addition and what he’s delivered. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell on MFB: ‘I think we would all love to see Jon Lester back in a Red Sox uniform’||08.13.14 at 4:59 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the state of the team and the prospects of Jon Lester returning to the club in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Sox won consecutive games for the first time since July 20-21 with a 3-2 win over the Reds Tuesday night. Joe Kelly made his second career start with the Red Sox and was strong again, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings for a no-decision.
“The one thing with Joe Kelly, he’s athletic, he repeats his delivery,” Farrell said. “I thought last night he had more powerful stuff than in St. Louis, and when you sit in the dugout, particularly from the third base side, you get a real appreciation for how quick his arm is. Good action to his secondary pitches both curveball and slider, might’ve been pitching a little bit too fine last night early on but settled in.
“I think he’s just a quality right-hander who we’re still getting to know, but clearly there’s a lot there to like.”
Kelly may be the newest Red Sox pitcher acquired, but the starter still most talked about in Boston is Lester, whom the Sox traded to Oakland at the deadline for Yoenis Cespedes. Lester will be a free agent at the end of the season, and has expressed an openness to returning to Boston. Farrell said he hasn’t given up hope on Lester returning.
“I think we would all love to see Jon Lester back in a Red Sox uniform,” Farrell said. “We also know that once free-agent season opens, he’s going to have an opportunity — he’s earned the right to see what the market is going to bear for him. I’m sure there will be a number teams that are interested in Jon. He’s durable, he’s productive, he’s done it in Boston, there’s a great comfort level with everyone here.
“I found his comments to be encouraging. He’s looking for the total package, not just the highest dollar. I think that sits well with anybody who reads it and particularly where he’s spent the majority of his career. We know there’s deep roots here. One of his homes is still here. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on D&C: John Lackey ‘did a lot for the Red Sox, and I think he’s happy where he is now’||08.07.14 at 9:51 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the state of the team and the fallout from the trade deadline fire sale. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
There has been some speculation that John Lackey pushed for a trade because he was not happy in Boston, upset with his contract that calls for him to be paid the major league minimum next year. The pitcher was sent the Cardinals last Thursday.
“Mostly what led to [the trade] is that he’s a really good pitcher and he’s on a unique contract, and that made him valuable to a team like the Cardinals, who understand that value, understand that having a guy who’s capable of pitching like that and making the minimum next year is a valuable guy to have,” Cherington said. “So they were willing to give up — we wouldn’t have traded both [Jon] Lester and Lackey without getting a) major league talent back and b) at least one major league starter back. That was sort of the standard.
“We’re all getting new information, and you get new information every day. I think John is happy where he is, and we wish him well. He did great things for us, certainly towards the end of the deal. He was on the mound for the clinching World Series game. I certainly hope that Red Sox fans and everyone around Boston’s sort of lasting memory of John Lackey is helping us win a World Series. That will be what mine is.”
Asked directly if Lackey wanted to leave, Cherington replied: “Look, I’m not going to get into every conversation I had with John Lackey. He did a lot for the Red Sox, and I think he’s happy where he is now.”
|Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Unlikely’ Tom Werner would become next MLB commissioner||08.06.14 at 2:06 pm ET|
ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB Wednesday afternoon to discuss Red Sox chairman Tom Werner‘s chances of being named the new MLB commissioner, Jon Lester‘s departure from the Red Sox and new developments in the Biogenesis scandal. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
In what can only be described as a shocking announcement, Werner, the Red Sox chairman was revealed as one of the three finalists to replace MLB commissioner Bud Selig. MLB owners will choose between Werner, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan for the position, with Olney listing Werner as a long-shot candidate.
“It’s interesting that his name came up, that was the surprising name, and we had known for a year that Rob Manfred was going to be Bud Selig‘s No. 1 choice, we knew Tim Brosnan, who’s had a lot of influence in the TV side, was going to be a voice, but when Werner was named yesterday, it was like, ‘Really?’ I was told last night that he’s got five votes — he needs 23 — and it’s unlikely that he would get it, but beyond that, I was really surprised,” Olney said.
With the announcement that Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has surrendered to the DEA, ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported that the new investigation could reveal more players linked to PEDs. While Olney acknowledged that PEDs still are an issue in baseball, he noted that more players being tied to the scandal is an unlikely scenario.
“There’s a ton of speculation about it, but I know from talking with people in baseball last year that they made their own deal with Tony Bosch, and they went over the stuff that he had, and they developed the stuff that they could develop, and they went all out,” Olney said. “The idea that Bosch now is going to make a separate deal with the feds and show them a completely different set of stuff, there’s some skepticism in MLB that there’s necessarily going to be substantive stuff that’s going to come out.”
Olney added: “Now, do I think there are a lot more players potentially involved in this thing and potentially is there more use of PEDs in baseball than there were three years ago? Absolutely. I know a lot of players feel that way, specifically in regards to HGH.”
|Tim Wakefield on MFB: ‘It shocked me that this many trades happened’||08.04.14 at 12:12 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield joined Middays with MFB at the inaugural Red Sox Foundation charity golf tournament at Belmont Country Club to discuss the departure of Jon Lester and others at the trade deadline as well as the struggles of Clay Buchholz. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Wakefield admitted that he was shocked at the flurry of moves that Boston made last week, especially deals in which the team shipped Lester and John Lackey to Oakland and St. Louis, respectively.
“I was disappointed that it came to this point,” Wakefield said. “I don’t think it needed to be this way, because you talk about a week before this all happened, they were buyers. They really were. And all of the sudden, I don’t know what happened. Being an analyst on NESN, I still can’t put my finger on what happened, except for the lack of run support or lack of runs scored. If you look at their statistics, they were third in the league on getting on base, whether it be a walk or a hit, but they just couldn’t get that one flare that you need every week to drive in a run.
“It shocked me that this many trades happened within a three or four-day period. … Clay is the ace of the staff right now and that’s not a bad thing. He’s pitching bad right mow, but I think it’s all a mechanical thing.”
Buchholz is mired in one of the worst stretches of his career, as the righty has allowed 14 earned runs over his last two outings. While Buchholz has mostly underwhelmed this entire season, Wakefield said that he believes that Buchholz’s issues can be corrected.
“I just think he’s fallen off to his left side to much,” Wakefield said. “His misses are up and in to a righty and down and away from a righty. He’s yanking balls left and right. It’s one of those things, and I struggled with it too, that you know what you’re doing wrong but you just can’t fix it quick enough. People might disagree with me, but I still like his stuff, and he’s got potential.”
Martinez, whose departure after the 2004 season has been compared to Jon Lester‘s situation, weighed in on the Red Sox’ trade of Lester to the Athletics.
“I wasn’t really surprised,” Martinez said. “After seeing that nothing worked out in spring training, and a little bit of disappointment on both sides, specially on Lester’s side, I could sense that something was going to happen. But at the same time, I was extremely sad and worried about him leaving because, to be honest, I don’t think he’s replaceable right now by any means.”
The Red Sox have made it clear they would prefer to avoid handing out long-term contracts to players in their 30s, but Martinez said the team will miss Lester’s leadership.
“Well, the first thing that we all have to realize is that the Red Sox are under no pressure. We won last year when nobody expected that we were going to win. Whatever we decided to do this year, we have plenty of time to put together a plan to build another team that can be in the winning column within the next three years. They have the luxury to do that because winning last year unexpectedly I think gave everybody space to breathe,” Martinez said.
“Now, I think for the good of the young arms that we have in the minor leagues, I think they needed someone to guide them. I didn’t see it so well that Lester would leave, because that’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse, a role model, worker. When you go into the clubhouse and you see Lester, the ace of the team, working, you have no choice but to go to work. When you see his mental approach about the game, the respect for the game and his respect for his teammates, I think it’s someone so valuable in so many different ways, it doesn’t have to really be performing. But it’s the influence that he brings over to the young arms that are coming up and probably hoping to develop into an ace later on.”
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